Monday, January 30, 2012

Should the Mona Lisa’s Smile Be Saved?

If you saw someone dying before your eyes, wouldn’t you do everything possible to save them? Is there ever a case when saving someone (or something) is the wrong choice? In a recent article on Art Watch UK titled “What Price a Smile? The Louvre Leonardo Mouths that are Now at Risk,” Michael Daley raises the issues surrounding what he calls “a wid[ening] international art conservation faultline” between conservative conservators who refuse to risk doing harm to great works of the past through cleanings and restorations and more aggressive conservators who feel that the benefits of modern conservation outweigh the (to them, minimal) risks. What raises Daley’s hackles the most is the shift from conservative conservation to almost radical change at the Louvre, the granddaddy of all art museums and past champion of the “do no harm” school. Not only has the philosophy changed at the Louvre, but, as Daley notes, some paintings by Leonardo da Vinci have already been changed with no debate on the issue. The Mona Lisa’s smile (cracking and faded, but still there, above) hasn’t undergone cosmetic surgery yet, but it seems the next step. Knowing the risks, should the Mona Lisa’s smile be saved? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Should the Mona Lisa’s Smile Be Saved?"

[Image: Leonardo da Vinci. Mona Lisa (detail), 1503-1519.]

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